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1/20/2011 - Posted by:
Combs Law Office, L.L.C.
Phone: 307-789-7003
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In 2010, I represented a motorcyclist who was stopped by a highway patrolman along with the client's three companions while traveling east on Interstate 80 through Wyoming.  According to the patrolman and the dashboard camera recording of the stop, all were wearing insignia indicating affiliation with the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club.  The motorcycle license plates on the bikes were issued by the State of California.  The stop was based on one of the other cyclists purportedly crossing a lane divider; however, the camera recording did not capture such an event.  The patrolman also claimed that my client's license plate was "obscured" by clothing articles that made the plate difficult to read.  All four of the travelers were detained by the patrolman for over thirty minutes while he "investigated" the claimed offenses, obtained identifying information from all, processed that information, filled out citations, and issued those citations; while issuing the citations, another patrolman with a drug detection canine arrived on the scene.  The patrolman admitted that he obtained no information prior to the dog's "free air sniff" that the individuals were somehow involved with controlled substances; neither had he gathered any information that would cause him to believe that any of the travelers posed a threat to his safety.

The drug detection dog alerted on my client's saddle bag, a small amount of marijuana and some prescription medications were found, and my client was arrested on charges of felony and misdemeanor possession of drugs, driving with an obscure license plate, and failure to carry proof of insurance.  My client faced many years of potential prison time, as well as thousands of dollars in fines and costs.

I filed a Motion to Suppress with supporting brief, arguing that the stop and detention were illegal.  I argued the Motion in the Court with felony jurisdiction.  The Motion was ultimately granted, and the prosecution was forced to ask that the matter be dismissed; that request was granted, and my client is now free to enjoy his life in northern California.         

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